Q: Our association is experiencing a problem with raising the Canadian flag with the American flag. At a recent board meeting after adjournment, a director asked the question. Then a vote was taken and approved. This is now causing a lot of concern among the owners. Can you help us solve this problem?
A: Flag etiquette is not a law, but there are established ways to display the American flag. The Web site usflag.org/flagetiquette.html states: "When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation."
Board meeting vs. homeowners meeting
Q: I am a member of our homeowners association board of directors and am trying to find out if there is a difference between a homeowners meeting and a board of directors meeting. I realize residents may attend both and ask questions at a homeowners meeting, but at a board of directors meeting, is it only the board that discusses items?
A: As the titles indicate, a members meeting is where the members run the meeting. The directors have no vote except as members. The members can appoint a chair, but in most situations the president is the chair. The meeting must follow the agenda, and members make motions and vote as a body. At board meetings, the directors should sit at a board table in front of the members and they control the discussions, but the members can address agenda items for up to three minutes subject to meeting policies. The directors make motions and they vote on the agenda table items.
Tracing deed error
Q: Our condominium has assigned parking, and it is recorded on our deeds. However, two of our owners have been assigned the same parking number on their deeds. Our association record is not accurate; should there be an official list some place?
A: Someone has made a transcribing error. If the information is not in your documents, a title search may be necessary. Some counties have records on the Internet, so call the county records department for search information. Otherwise, go to the county courthouse, where you can search for early recorded deeds. Search those two units for the correct parking number. If you cannot find the information, contact an attorney to do a title search.
Q: I am a new HOA board member and new to Florida. Can you direct me to some helpful Web sites or other resources regarding associations? Also, are there any workshops board members can go to?
A: One of the best resources is the Community Association Institute (CAI). The national Web site is www.caionline.org. Local chapters are found throughout the state. Some in the bay area include the Suncoast Chapter, (727) 345-0165, and the West Florida Chapter, (941) 927-1910.
Building Managers International (BOMA), at www.boma.org, has local management groups that address local problems. BOMA of Greater Tampa Bay can be reached at (813) 886-3215 or bomagtb.org.
The Web site www.talkwith cam.com is another source. Also try calling association attorneys and management companies in your area to see if they have newsletters. Any of these resources can provide information about workshops and classes in your area.
Follow the statutes
Q: We have a new director on our homeowners association board who thinks that the HOA does not have to follow the statute FS 720. He says there is no agency to enforce whether we follow the state statutes or not. The rest of us think he is wrong. What should we do?
A: While there is no state agency to which to report violations, the statutes (FS 720.311) do allow a dispute resolution procedure. At this time, the HOA Act is being discussed by the state legislature (HB-27), and this section may be changed. Attorney Paul L. Wean is an arbitrator and expert in this section of the HOA Act. He offers tips at his Web site, wmlo.com. In the meantime, explain to the director that his failure to follow statutes can result in inadequate defense if the association is taken to court.
Richard White is a licensed community associations manager. Write to him at 6039 Cypress Gardens Blvd., No. 201, Winter Haven, FL 33884-4115 or e-mail him at CAMquestions @cfl.rr.com. Please include your name and city.